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Angel Barajas

The FIG released the nominative roster for the first world cup of the season, which is set to take place in Cairo beginning February 15.

This year, just as in the 2020 quad, the world cup series will serve as a qualifying event for the Olympic Games, with two athletes per apparatus – a total of 8 WAG and 12 MAG – eligible to earn berths through a point system based on their rankings at three out of the four world cups that will take place over the next couple of months. With these spots on the line, nearly 300 athletes have signed up across both disciplines, more than double the number of registrations we typically see for these events.

Here are some of the most notable storylines to keep an eye on going into both this event and the series as a whole.

Belarus Sending “Neutral” Athletes. Last week, the FIG granted neutral status to a number of Belarusian athletes who had previously been banned from international events due to Belarus’ support of Russian in its war in Ukraine.

The Authorized Neutral Athletes (AIN) now have the opportunity to compete at FIG-sponsored events once again, including for Olympic berths, with three athletes of this designation on the list for Cairo – two-time European medalist Yahor Sharamkou and new senior Mikita Parfianovich on the MAG side, and Alena Tsitavets, a first-year senior who competed in the uneven bars finals at both the Russian Junior Championships and the Russian Cup last year, representing for WAG.

Young Seniors Getting Paris Shots. One of my biggest problems with the FIG’s current qualification system is that small programs with talented young athletes who become seniors in the Olympic year have only very limited opportunities for getting to the Games, as they are not age-eligible to compete at world championships – the primary means of qualification – in the prior year. And with the Pan American Games held in 2023 counting as the continental qualifier for athletes in the Americas region, it means the only chance for these athletes is the world cup series.

Thankfully, some of the top Pan American first-year seniors are all slated to compete in Cairo, including Isabella Ajalla and Mia Mainardi for Argentina and Angel Barajas for Colombia. Other exciting small program up-and-comers I’m excited to see at this meet are Vanesa Masova (Czechia), Lily Russell (Ireland), and Diana Lobok (Ukraine).

France Sending MAG Stars. After missing out on MAG team and individual spots for its home Olympics at worlds last year, France is going all out with its top apparatus stars here, including Benjamin Osberger, who excels on floor and is also great on pommel horse, Cyril Tommasone for pommels, Samir Aït Saïd for rings, Cameron-Lie Bernard for rings and parallel bars, with the latter his true standout apparatus, Léo Saladino for vault, and Matthias Philippe for parallel bars and high bar. The competition for spots on all six events will be incredibly tough, but if the guys don’t make it happen here or at Euros, they’ll be guaranteed an individual spot as the host country.

Injury Comebacks. Several athletes who missed qualifying to the Olympics at worlds due to injuries last year are coming back into action in Cairo. Those with the greatest potential are probably Lisa Vaelen (Belgium) and Valentina Georgieva (Bulgaria) on vault along with Caio Souza (Brazil), who will compete on rings, parallel bars, and high bar after sustaining an Achilles injury last year. I’m also excited to see the returns of Maisa Kuusikko (Finland), who will compete on bars here after injuring her knee just weeks before she was supposed to lead her team at worlds in 2023, Dorien Motten (Georgia), who is expected to compete on all four events, and Ana Derek (Croatia), a two-time Olympian who will compete on her best events, beam and floor.

North Korea’s First Post-Covid FIG Event. The Covid lockdown situation was taken especially seriously by North Korea, which withdrew all of its athletes from competing at the rescheduled Olympic Games in 2021, and didn’t return to gymnastics competition until the Asian Games just a few months ago. But the country is finally back in action at its first FIG meet since 2019, sending three top Asian Games competitors – vault and bars champion An Chang Ok and vault and floor silver medalist Kim Son Hyang for WAG along with and rings finalist Jong Ryong Il on the MAG side – which could very well result in a return to the Olympics, especially if An looks as strong as she did in Hangzhou a few months ago.

Change-of-Nation Hopefuls. There are a few athletes on the list who recently began representing adopted programs in order to obtain Olympic berths. Georgia-Rose Brown, a staple of the Australian program for over a decade but who has never reached the Olympic Games, is now representing New Zealand and will make her debut for the program in Cairo, while former U.S. national team members Emma Malabuyo and Levi Jung-Ruivivar will compete for the Philippines, hoping to add additional Olympic spots either via the world cups or later this year at the Asian Championships following Aleah Finnegan‘s success in earning a spot in Antwerp last year.

The competition will begin with qualifications on Thursday, February 15 and Friday, February 16, and will continue with finals over that weekend. The full list of competitors is below.

ALBANIA
Matvei Petrov
ARGENTINA
Daniel Villafañe Isabella Ajalla
Sira Macias
Mia Mainardi
ARMENIA
Artur Avetisyan
Artur Davtyan
Vahagn Davtyan
Gagik Khachikyan
Harutyun Merdinyan
AUSTRALIA
James Bacueti
Tyson Bull
Clay Mason Stephens
Mitchell Morgans
Vedant Sawant
AUSTRIA
Vinzenz Höck Bianca Frysak
Selina Kickinger
Charlize Mörz
AZERBAIJAN
Murad Agharzayev
Rasul Ahmadzada
Nikita Simonov
Ivan Tikhonov
Samira Gahramanova
Nazanin Teymurova
BELARUS*
Mikita Parfianovich
Yahor Sharamkou
Alena Tsitavets
BELGIUM
Maellyse Brassart
Aberdeen O’Driscoll
Erika Pinxten
Lisa Vaelen
BRAZIL
Yuri Guimarães
Arthur Mariano
Bernardo Miranda
Caio Souza
BULGARIA
Yordan Aleksandrov
Dimitar Dimitrov
Eddie Penev
Bozhidar Zlatanov
Valentina Georgieva
Yoana Yankova
CHILE
Joaquin Alvarez
Ignacio Varas
Makarena Pinto
CHINA
Luo Huan
Qiu Qiyuan
Tian Zhuofan
Wu Ran
COLOMBIA
Angel Barajas
Jossimar Calvo
Dilan Jimenez
Juan Larrahondo
Luisa Blanco
Ginna Escobar
COSTA RICA
Lucia Solano
CROATIA
Aurel Benovic
Filip Ude
Ana Derek
Tijana Korent
Sara Sulekic
Tina Zelcic
CUBA
Diorges Escobar
CYPRUS
Michalis Chari
Ilias Georgiou
Marios Georgiou
Sokratis Pilakouris
CZECHIA
Ondrej Kalny
Radomir Sliz
Aneta Holasova
Vanesa Masova
Alice Vlkova
DENMARK
Camille Rasmussen
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Wilfry Contreras
Leandro Peña
Jeordy Ramirez
ECUADOR
Alais Perea
Fabiana Sadún
EGYPT
Abdelrahman Abdelhaleem
Mohamed Afify
Ahmed Elmaraghy
Omar Elshobki
Omar Mohamed
Ali Zahran
Judy Abdalla
Nada Awad
Jana Mahmoud
Nancy Taman
FINLAND
Akseli Karsikas
Oskar Kirmes
Robert Kirmes
Elias Koski
Joona Reiman
Pavel Titov
Maisa Kuusikko
Kaia Tanskanen
FRANCE
Samir Aït Saïd
Cameron-Lie Bernard
Benjamin Osberger
Mathias Philippe
Léo Saladino
Cyril Tommasone
GEORGIA
Ioane Jimsheleishvili
Levan Skhiladze
Dorien Motten
GREAT BRITAIN
Joe Fraser
Joshua Nathan
Adam Tobin
Courtney Tulloch
Ondine Achampong
Becky Downie
GREECE
Alkinoos Graikos
Nikolaos Iliopoulos
Apostolos Kanellos
Antonios Tantalidis
Stefanos Tsolakidis
Athanasia Mesiri
Magdalini Tsiori
HONG KONG
Ng Ka Ki
Shek Wai Hung
Angel Wong Hiu Ying
HUNGARY
Krisztian Balazs
Botond Molnar
Benedek Tomcsanyi
David Vecsernyes
ICELAND
Martin Gudmundsson
Jon Gunnarsson
Valgard Reinhardsson
INDIA
Tapan Mohanty
Ujwal Naidu
Rakesh Patra
Ritu Das
Dipa Karmakar
Pranati Nayak
IRAN
Mahdi Ahmad Kohani
Mohammadreza Khosronezhad
Hossein Nourishourakchali
Mahdi Olfati
IRELAND
Dominick Cunningham
Ewan McAteer
Rhys McClenaghan
Eamon Montgomery
Adam Steele
Blathnaid Higgins
Halle Hilton
Lily Russell
Emma Slevin
ISRAEL
Andrey Medvedev
Alexander Myakinin
Ron Pyatov
Ofir Netzer
ITALY
Lorenzo Casali
Edoardo de Rosa
Carlo Macchini
Salvatore Maresca
Chiara Barzasi
Arianna Belardelli
July Marano
JAPAN
Chiba Kenta
Sugimoto Kaito
Tanigawa Kakeru
Tanigawa Wataru
Fukasawa Kokoro
Hatakeda Chiaki
Okamura Mana
JORDAN
Ahmad Abu Al Soud
Saleem Naghouj
KAZAKHSTAN
Ilyas Azizov
Zeinolla Idrissov
Nariman Kurbanov
Dmitriy Patanin
Aida Bauyrzhanova
Darya Yassinskaya
LATVIA
Dmitrijs Mickevics
Ricards Plate
LITHUANIA
Robert Tvorogal
LUXEMBOURG
Celeste Mordenti
MALAYSIA
Ally Hamuda Abdullah
Muhammad Sharul Aimy
Ng Chun Chen
Rachel Yeoh Li Wen
MEXICO
Rodrigo Gomez
Isaac Nuñez
Alonso Perez
Javier Rojo
Paulina Campos
Cassandra Loustalot
MONGOLIA
Enkhtuvshin Damdindorj
Usukhbayar Erkhembayar
Namuuntsetseg Davaanyam
Namuunjargal Sodnomtseren
MOROCCO
Hamza Hossaini
Achraf Quistas
Rihab Sobti
NETHERLANDS
Eythora Thorsdottir
Sanna Veerman
NEW ZEALAND
Ethan Dick
Samuel Dick
William Fu-Allen
Daniel Stoddart
Isabella Brett
Georgia-Rose Brown
Reece Cobb
NORTH KOREA
Jong Ryong Il An Chang Ok
Kim Son Hyang
NORWAY
Sofus Heggemsnes
Jacob Karlsen
Peder Skogvang
Niklas Syverhuset
Harald Wibye
Julie Erichsen
Mari Kanter
Christine Kubon
Maria Tronrud
PANAMA
Hillary Heron
Lana Herrera
Karla Navas
PERU
Nicolas Garfias
PHILIPPINES
Juancho Miguel Besana
John Ivan Cruz
Emma Malabuyo
Levi Jung-Ruivivar
POLAND
Sebastian Gawronski Marta Pihan-Kulesza
PORTUGAL
Guilherme Campos
Jose Nogueira
PUERTO RICO
Nelson Guilbe
Jose Lopez
QATAR
Al-Harith Rakan
SERBIA
Ivan Dejanovic
Petar Vefic
SLOVAKIA
Barbora Mokosova
SLOVENIA
Luka Bojanc
Anze Hribar
Lucija Hribar
Lucka Ravnihar
SOUTH AFRICA
Naveen Daries
SOUTH KOREA
Hur Woong
Kim Hansol
Ryu Sunghyun
Shin Jeahwan
SPAIN
Thierno Diallo
Nicolau Mir
Adria Vera
Rayderley Zapata
Laura Casabuena
Laia Font
Maia Llacer
SWEDEN
Luis Il-Sung Melander
Filip Lidbeck
Nathalie Westlund
Jennifer Williams
SWITZERLAND
Caterina Cereghetti
Anny Wu
TAIWAN
Hung Yuan-Hsi
Lee Chih-Kai
Lin Guan-Yi
Shiao Yu-Jan
Tang Chia-Hung
Tseng Wei-Sheng
Lai Pin-Ju
Mai Liu Hsiang-Han
Ting Hua-Tien
Wu Sing-Fen
TÜRKIYE
Ferhat Arican
Ibrahim Colak
Mehmet Ayberk Kosak
Beren Bay
Atiye Berra Karademir
Zeynep Kurtulus
Derin Tanriyasükür
UKRAINE
Nazar Chepurnyi
Illia Kovtun
Oleg Verniaiev
Yelizaveta Hubareva
Diana Lobok
UZBEKISTAN
Rasuljon Abdurakhimov
Khumoyun Islomov
Abdulaziz Mirvaliev
Dildora Aripova
Oksana Chusovitina
Odinakhon Robidjonova
VIETNAM
Dang Ngoc Xuan Thien
Nguyen Van Khanh Phong
Trinh Hai Khang
Van Vi Luong

*Competing as Authorized Neutral Athletes

Article by Lauren Hopkins

———————–

By: Lauren
Title: Athletes Sign Up in Droves for Cairo World Cup With Olympics on the Line
Sourced From: thegymter.net/2024/01/18/athletes-sign-up-in-droves-for-cairo-world-cup-with-olympics-on-the-line/
Published Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2024 21:32:57 +0000

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Nikola Jokic Shares His Thoughts On The NBA MVP Conversation

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Nikola Jokic Shares His Thoughts On The NBA MVP Conversation – originally posted on Sportslens.com

The end of the NBA regular season marks the close of the individual award races around the league. Many of the 2023–24 awards have long been locked up, at least based on their betting odds, and there are just one or two that still have to be decided. The odds for MVP are heavily in the favor of Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić, though the superstar doesn’t seem to buy in to any conversation regarding the honors.

Jokic Comments On The NBA MVP Discussion

It has been Jokic’s award to lose since Joel Embiid went down with an injury in late January. It would be the third time that he has earned the honor of being named the most valuable, as he has averaged a near triple-double yet again this season, and has his team in position for another deep playoff run.

During his post-game press conference following Denver’s big win over the Timberwolves on Wednesday, Jokic was asked about his thoughts on the MVP discussion happening as the season comes to a close:

I think the whole MVP conversation is getting out of control. I think I’m playing good basketball, the team is playing good basketball. If I win it, great. If I don’t win it, congrats to the other guy. I think there’s a lot of players playing really good basketball in the league.

Gilgeous-Alexander & Doncic Have Been The Other Candidates Lately

The other two players that have been garnering the most attention in MVP talks down the stretch have been Luka Dončić and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The latter has been in the conversation for much of the season, as the Thunder guard has led the league in scoring and has had his team at the top of the standings throughout the year.

Doncic has been arguably the best player in the league over the past couple of months. Not only has he been putting up impressive numbers, but his Mavericks have been on fire as of late, having won 16 of 18 to catapult into the top-5 in the West.

Jokic was the winner of the NBA MVP award in both 2021 and 2022, and there were some who believed that he should have taken home the hardware last season as well. Had be topped Embiid in 2023, he would be on the brink of an unprecedented fourth straight MVP win.

From Sportslens.com – NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB News, Rumors & Betting Picks

———————–

By: Anthony R. Cardenas
Title: Nikola Jokic Shares His Thoughts On The NBA MVP Conversation
Sourced From: sportslens.com/news/nikola-jokic-shares-his-thoughts-on-the-nba-mvp-conversation/
Published Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2024 20:43:13 +0000

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Did you miss our previous article…
https://mansbrand.com/bulls-coach-billy-donovan-is-a-candidate-for-the-kentucky-head-coaching-job/

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Bulls Coach Billy Donovan Is A Candidate For The Kentucky Head Coaching Job

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Bulls Coach Billy Donovan Is A Candidate For The Kentucky Head Coaching Job – originally posted on Sportslens.com

College basketball is coming off of a weekend in which they owned the sports landscape. The women’s Final Four set viewership records and the men’s side saw UConn pull off back-to-back championships, but some of the biggest news came off of the court, when it was announced that John Calipari would be leaving Kentucky after spending the last 15 years as the head coach. There has already been plenty of speculation about who will take the high profile job, and Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has been one of the names most often floated.

Is The Bulls Head Coach A Candidate For Kentucky Job?

While he has been in the NBA ranks for the past nine years, most of Donovan’s success as a head coach came during his days at the college level. He is best known for being the head coach at the University of Florida from 1996 until 2015, a span that saw six Elite 8 appearances and back-to-back National Championships in 2006 and 2007.

But his first ever job as a coach of any kind came at Kentucky, where he worked as an assistant under Rick Pitino. So a connection between Donovan and the program exists, which make him one of the assumed leading candidates for the job.

Does Donovan Want To Head Back To The College Ranks?

Would he leave the Bulls and the NBA in order to move back down to the collegiate ranks? His name is brought up nearly every time there is a prestigious NCAA job opening, though this particular program might be more enticing to Donovan than openings in the past. But despite Chicago’s struggles this season, it appears that his job with the Bulls is safe, as he recently signed a multi-year extension with the team.

Kentucky can certainly offer more money, though, and as The Athletic reports, the Bulls likely won’t be interested in getting into a bidding war. They instead could be banking on the fact that coaching the Wildcats brings far more pressure than coaching the Bulls does, which may be a reason for the 58-year-old Billy Donovan to stay put in Chicago.

Other names that have been mentioned as possible Calipari replacements are Baylor head coach Scott Drew and Nate Oats of Alabama.

From Sportslens.com – NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB News, Rumors & Betting Picks

———————–

By: Anthony R. Cardenas
Title: Bulls Coach Billy Donovan Is A Candidate For The Kentucky Head Coaching Job
Sourced From: sportslens.com/news/bulls-coach-billy-donovan-is-a-candidate-for-the-kentucky-head-coaching-job/
Published Date: Tue, 09 Apr 2024 15:18:30 +0000

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James Harden Can Reach These Two NBA Career Milestones During Final Week Of The Season

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James Harden Can Reach These Two NBA Career Milestones During Final Week Of The Season – originally posted on Sportslens.com

James Harden and the Los Angeles Clippers still have plenty to play for over the final four games of the regular season. While it is unlikely that they are unseated as the 4th seed in the Western Conference, they still have to stave off the surging Dallas Mavericks if they want to keep home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They’ll play back-to-back games against the Phoenix Suns to start the week, and Harden will be setting himself up to chase a couple of NBA career milestones.

Harden Is On The Doorstep Of Two NBA Milestones

He is one of the most statistically accomplished players that are active in the league today. He is #3 on the list of three-pointers made all time, and should be passing Ray Allen for the #2 spot early on in the 2024-25 season. He is 20th on the all-time scoring list as well, and should pass Kevin Garnett within the first few games of the next campaign as well.

But there are a couple of marks that he is threatening going into the final week of the season. The first, and the one that he is highly unlikely to reach, is the 26,000 points mark. Harden will enter the week needing 119 points to hit the milestone, which means that he would have to average 30 points per game over the final four, a total that he has reached just once this season while averaging 16.7 per. It is likely that he will eclipse the 26k points mark in the second or third game of next season.

The Steals Mark Feels More Achievable Over Final Week

But the steals milestone feels very achievable. Harden has a while to go until he is ranked in the top-25 all-time in number of steals in NBA history, coming in at #37. But he is coming up on a personal milestone in the category, as he needs just 3 steals during the final week of the season in order to hit 1,600 for his career. He may even pass Jason Terry for #36 on the list if he somehow nabs 7 defensive takeaways over the final four games, though that will likely come next season as well.

He has averaged better than one steal per game in essentially every season of his career, and 2023-24 has been no different. Harden is stealing 1.1 balls per game this year, and should be able to hit the 1,600 mark in his 4 games to wrap up the NBA season.

From Sportslens.com – NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB News, Rumors & Betting Picks

———————–

By: Anthony R. Cardenas
Title: James Harden Can Reach These Two NBA Career Milestones During Final Week Of The Season
Sourced From: sportslens.com/news/james-harden-can-reach-these-two-nba-career-milestones-during-final-week-of-the-season/
Published Date: Mon, 08 Apr 2024 22:48:54 +0000

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